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Courtesy: Duke Women's Lacrosse
Tucci: Blue Devils Nearing End of Preseason
Friday 01/29/2013  -  Duke Sports Information
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Duke junior Emma Tucci will be blogging throughout the 2012-13 season, giving Duke fans an inside look at life on the Blue Devil women's lacrosse team. Look for Emma's blog all year on GoDuke.com.

Welcome back Duke Lacrosse fans!

Happy preseason! I hope this wintery weather hasn't stopped you from following your favorite women's lacrosse team. Down here at Duke, you would think it's all sunshine and rainbows, but we actually have been battling rather harsh conditions. These past few weeks have been a rollercoaster ride of low temperatures, cold rain, hail and complete grey cloud coverage. But have no fear! Our team has still been getting after it everyday, despite the less than perfect conditions. Our progress is tremendous and we've only endured two weeks of practice. I think one of the reasons that can explain our tenacious energy is in part a result of the amazing experience we all had on our annual team bonding trip!!

The first weekend back at school, Kerstin and the rest of the coaching staff took us to Asheville, North Carolina for a little cabin get away. In years past we have done the team trip at the start of the school year; however I think going before pre-season is a more crucial and important month for our team to spend quality time together.

Prior to departing for Asheville, our team participated in our "Values Walk." This is another annual tradition that reflects on our six core Duke Women's Lacrosse team values. They help remind us of our responsibilities as a Duke student-athlete, and guide us mentally through our commitment. Our six values are: Team First, Balance, Excellence, Commitment, Courage and Duke Lax Love. Before the values walk, the Team Council meets with Kerstin to discuss the logistics of the walk and various other details. This year we were lucky to hear from three former Duke Women's Lacrosse players, Casey Carroll on the men's lacrosse team, and Coach Kimel who spoke to our freshmen and sophomores at the top of the Duke Chapel.

This activity is an incredible reflection of the love and pride we all have in our program. It was a reminder to us all that we are a part of something that is bigger then ourselves. This season we have to play not only for our teammates, but also for the players that came before us - the players that were the pioneers of the program, and for the players that will come after us.

After our team activity, we loaded the bus and headed towards Asheville, North Carolina for the remainder of the weekend. Now when we arrived at our campsite it was actually a scene from a horror movie. The fog was still looming in the air and light was hard to come by. We split off into our three cabins and quickly got ready for bed. Myself, Maddy Morrissey, Maddie Salamone, Brigid Smith and Claire Scarrone were the lucky ones that got to bunk with the coaching staff! I know I felt safer with Erin Stephenson in my cabin - she would protect us all in case anything tried to scare us.

The next morning, the gang packed up for a day at the Biltmore Estate. I'll be honest, before this trip I had no idea that this castle even existed, but after walking through the bedrooms and kitchens of the Vanderbilt family "home," I would recommend the trip to anyone! We all walked around in awe at the beautiful and historic aspects of the estate. The photo opportunities and Instagram uploads were in abundance during the tour.

Back at the cabins, a few of us did some exploring in the woods. Kerrin Maurer caught wind that this retreat site had a basketball court. We all trekked through the brush to find the next activity: competitive knockout. Taylor Virden, Kelci Smesko, Molly Quirke and Kaki Jennison brought back their high school baller skills and the rest of us just tried to keep up. Chelsea Landon had some impeccable jump shots, and Maddy Morrissey invented new ways to shoot a lay-up. The girl is from upstate, so we cut her some slack. Hockey is more her style. After several rounds of competition, Assistant Coach Kristen Waagbo greeted us at the court. Waags talked a big game, and although she has a great free throw shot, she wasn't able to compete with the big dogs.

The night concluded with a home-cooked Italian meal, a team building session and obviously a little Blue/White competition. The coaches really threw us a curve ball when they introduced the rules of the game. We were competing in several "Minute to Win It" challenges. If you haven't seen the show, the contestants are given extremely random, but challenging tasks that have to be completed in one minute. The challenges were as random as stacking six die on a tongue dispenser that was placed in your mouth for three seconds. It was a tough one. I totally failed, but Gabby Moise and Mie Graham barely flinched during their turns. The competitions ended after a hard fought battle by both teams... but unfortunately Blue team took the win. Molly Quirke and Tara Stokes completely dominated in the "ping-pong in a trash can" challenge. Molly Quirke was draining buckets.

After the activity-filled day, we headed down to the remote campfire to make s'mores, share stories and reflect on the weekend. After getting the fire up and running we all sat contently under a sea of stars. I remember thinking about how lucky I am to have such incredible teammates. We were all getting excited for our season as we laughed and enjoyed dessert by the fire. Overall the team trip brought us together after being away for winter break, and helped us get geared up for what was to be a successful preseason. Between the games, the meals and the constant laughter, it's safe to say that are ready to get the 2013 season underway!!

Back in Durham, preseason began in its usual fashion ... We've had a challenging two weeks both on the field and in the weight room. The weather, as I mentioned before, also decided to test us with some pretty brutal conditions. But these challenges only pushed us to work harder and we made Greg Dale proud by putting "mind over matter" during the tough practices.

Now preseason wouldn't be without its weirdness if we didn't have a player go down with missing teeth, right? Let me explain ... During a recent scrimmage, Taylor Virden and Maddy Morrissey were going after a loose ball and some way, somehow, Taylor's stick got hold of Maddy's mouth and knocked out half of her two bottom teeth. Like the tough cookie she is, Maddy Morrissey sprung up, composed herself, and was back on the field in minutes. To this day, her teeth are still missing, but the sight of her gap tooth is growing on me and I think it makes her look tough!!

This past week, Coach Waagbo introduced us to several new offensive sets, which are going to be a major asset for our attack this spring. I am looking forward to seeing Maddy Acton, Brigid Smith and Makenzie Hommel get to their shaking and baking with these new offensive plays. The defense has been getting back to their old tricks, with our newly named defensive sets. We have switched from colors, to ferocious animals to name our various defensive plays. Seniors Mie Graham and Lauren Martin have been taking command in the backfield, and freshman Claire Scarrone has also been making her presence known. Overall, our team has been practicing with an intensity and focus that almost gives me the chills. We are so hungry and ready to compete, and show the rest of the nation what Duke Lacrosse is made of. This weekend, we will wrap up our preseason over in Chapel Hill at the South of the Border Tournament. It should be a great Sunday of lacrosse!

Okay, I think I have definitely exceeded the word limit, or just completely lost your attention by now, but thanks for tuning in! We love your support.

Missing teeth, wacky weather and hungry hearts,

-Ocho


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